Anxiety is under diagnosed and oftentimes over-treated by big pharma. However, the truth is that nothing ever changes or gets better without your personal involvement. The more of yourself you put into a situation the more personal satisfaction you get out of your effort.
So rather than having a drink, toke, or snort to try to wipe away this ruminating anxiety that feels as if it is eating you alive, let’s try adding tools to the tool box. The first one is journaling. Because Writing Your Way to Healing and Wholeness is a journal, these first few blogs will be on learning to journal in a meaningful way for you. Not all artists are the same. Some like working with clay and others with water color, while some are bored with oils others delve deep into the richness of color. Writing is the same way. It is boring to just record your daily life. The good news about just recording your daily activity you may become aware of how boring your life is. Thus, journaling as “art” is a way of getting your creative juices going and supplementing your life by bringing life into the objects around you. For instance, that anxiety that just won’t shut up, be quiet, go away or stop for microseconds, then it is up to you to learn to do something different with anxiety. Learning to externalize the anxiety is an important art that allows you to do something different rather than be anxiety’s hostage.
Here is how you start externalizing your anxiety. Set your timer for two minutes. Close your eyes. Image your anxiety. Let it take form. What does the anxiety look like? How big? How small? What is its texture? Does it have an odor? What color or colors is it? Once you have a clearly defined your anxiety, open your eyes and set your timer for three minutes. Write down the image of your anxiety. Take your time and really use your pen as a paint brush and describe fully your anxiety. Then, take a deep breath and ask anxiety, “What message do you have for me?” Write down what anxiety says. Notice how that message makes you feel inside of your body. Where do you feel it in your body and how would you like body to respond differently? Given that information from your body, write three consistent minutes responding to anxiety’s message to you. Continue back and forth in this dialogue. You may find the timer helpful or you may be ready to let the timer go and just keep dialoguing.
Timers are helpful tools especially when coping with anxiety because anxiety enjoys being an intimidator. It enjoys its own chatter. It is constantly saying things like: “you are taking too much time,” “that was a stupid message,” and “this stupid exercise is getting your nowhere.” If you are writing to a timer then you just keep focusing and moving on. For me the best analogy is physical therapy. While doing rehab for my knee replacement, the PT handed me a timer and I learned to hold a position for thirty seconds, one minute and so on and the timer became my friend because when it went off I could let go. Thus, the timer is a helpful friend while doing journal exercises.
Think about journaling as a therapy that helps you live a productive and engaged lifestyle with your friends, family, and yourself. Think about coming to your journal daily for only six minutes. Once a week spend a few minutes re-reading what you wrote. What was your focus? Where are you stuck? Where are you making progress? Where do you want you to focus this coming next week?
Don’t spend every exercise working with your anxiety, but if anxiety is a big issue for you dedicate at least one day a week externalizing it and dialoguing with the anxiety.
Hope this helps. Please share your questions, comments on the space provided about this blog. Thank you for joining and pass the word to others today. Thanks, Dr. D.